Listen free for 30 days

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

After her grandmother died, Hadley Freeman travelled to her apartment to try and make sense of a woman she’d never really known. Sala Glass was a European expat in America – defiantly clinging to her French influences, famously reserved, fashionable to the end – yet to Hadley much of her life remained a mystery. Sala’s experience of surviving one of the most tumultuous periods in modern history was never spoken about.

When Hadley found a shoebox filled with her grandmother’s treasured belongings, it started a decade-long quest to find out their haunting significance and to dig deep into the extraordinary lives of Sala and her three brothers. The search takes Hadley from Picasso’s archives in Paris to a secret room in a farmhouse in Auvergne to Long Island and to Auschwitz.

By piecing together letters, photos and an unpublished memoir, Hadley brings to life the full story of the Glass siblings for the first time: Alex’s past as a fashion couturier and friend of Dior and Chagall, trusting and brave Jacques, a fierce patriot for his adopted country and the brilliant Henri who hid in occupied France – each of them made extraordinary bids for survival during the Second World War. And alongside her great-uncles’ extraordinary acts of courage in Vichy France, Hadley discovers her grandmother’s equally heroic but more private form of female self-sacrifice.

A moving memoir following the Glass siblings throughout the course of the 20th century as they each make their own bid for survival, House of Glass explores assimilation, identity and home – issues that are deeply relevant today.

This audiobook includes an exclusive interview between Hadley Freeman and her editor, in which they discuss the themes of the book and illuminate further on some of the extraordinary events detailed within.

©2020 Hadley Freeman (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"An utterly engrossing book." (Nigella Lawson)

"Remarkable and gripping." (Edmund de Waal)

"The writing is fresh, original. It is tempting to gorge on this collection at breakneck speed. But it works better as a series of witty polemics on women’s place in society." (Observer)

More from the same

What listeners say about House of Glass

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    188
  • 4 Stars
    22
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    2
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    145
  • 4 Stars
    29
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    163
  • 4 Stars
    12
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

epic

a family memoir that reads like a novel. intertwining stories of a family separated by wat and how they overcame that. loved listening to it, sad, informative and gripping all day the same time

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Compulsive

An amazing story of a family; and of the events of the 20th century which made what might have been ordinary lives extraordinary. Meticulously researched, and beautifully written; and affectingly narrated by the author. Strongly recommended.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A moving yet true story of survival

Well researched and written. A brilliant insight into the horrors the Glass family went through before, during and after WW11.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I too wouldn't have been born without Hitler.

Loved it: compelling, evocative, tragic and stranger than fiction. Fashion, art, money, fame and death.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story but better read than listened to

The story was fascinating but, although Hadley Freeman had a direct relationship with the people within the book, it would have been better if a professional actor had read it. The initial chapters were read far too fast and even though she then, seemingly, got the hang of it, the story would have benefitted from a more talented reader. However, I would highly recommend 'House of Glass' but in book form and not audio.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb family storytelling

This is a really fascinating and well-told Jewish family story that spans across Europe and America through the 20th century. The stories of the writer’s grandmother and great uncle Alex are particularly compelling and I was especially interested to learn another side of the narratives I had heard about France during WWII. It is read very well and there is an interesting bonus interview with Hadley Freeman at the end which I enjoyed.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Extraordinary story of 20th century Jewish family

Author and journalist Hadley Freemen has written this remarkable book after looking through the shoe box archive containing her own family history and nearly twenty years of research. Many of the stories here will be similar to those of other Jewish families in the early twentieth century who migrated to escape persecution first in Eastern Europe and then from the Nazis in World War Two. It is a story of adaptation and survival and the seemingly perennial issues of keeping traditions and culture alive and the degree which it is appropriate to assimilate to survive. The story covers Hadley Freeman's grandmother Sara and her three brothers Alex, Jacques and Henri and compares and contrasts their lives based on the decisions they made. It is Freeman's grandmother Sara who emigrated to the US who appears to have the least adventurous life and it was her brothers who stayed in the France, fashion designer Alex in particular, who forged remarkable lives meeting, among others, Pablo Picasso and Christian Dior. Family myths are explored and verified too with the aid of researchers from TV's Who do you Think you Are including an escape from a train destined for the camps, the French Foreign Legion and the Resistance movement. Hadley Freeman's family are certainly remarkable but there are thousands of unpublished family stories many of whom were less fortunate and paid the ultimate price and we should never forget them or the horrors from this terrible era.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Moving and poignant

The story took me a little while to really immerse into but I’m so glad I persevered through his incredibly sad first chapters. As long a fascinating insight into the characters lives and the Glass family, it is truly also eye opening for anyone who thinks the immense suffering of Jews was confined to WW2.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A bit long

If Freeman had intended it to be mostly about her grandmother then she didn’t achieve that because Alex was such a strong character and had led such a remarkable life. It was an interesting book. If it had been a physical book I wouldn’t have read it. The historical material, particularly between the wars and wartime France, was very interesting.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Eye opening account of recent Jewish history

Hooked from the very first chapter. Such vivid and affectionate descriptions of the key characters

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Miki
  • Miki
  • 09-01-21

Compelling memoir and historical journey

I have read many books on Jewish history but Hadley Freeman has done an incredible job. Not only are her family genuinely colourful and interesting but freemen intersperses biography with deeply researched historical facts and occurances that are shockingly relevant in today’s climate, making this a family memoir, a multi- generational sweep and a readable history of Jewish migration in the 20th century. Her reading is top notch. I have always read Hadley Freeman’s columns with joy - she is one of my favourite journalists - but this book goes beyond all expectations